Rescuing the legitimate use of public force

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In the state of Guerrero, failure of governance only seems to intensify. The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Francisco Arroyo Vieyra, stated that the entity is in the process of becoming a “failed state”. With the use of erratic action, the state’s governor Ángel Aguirre (from PRD party) does not appear to “take the bull by the horns”. It should not be forgotten that he’s the same public servant who, then as member of PRI, was appointed interim governor after the Aguas Blancas massacre occurred in 1996, replacing the fearsome “Huitzuco tiger” Raúl Figueroa Alcocer. Certainly, Aguas Blancas must remain in the current governor’s memory as he surely isn’t the only one with that kind of remembrances. Looking back in history, events such as the 1997 Acteal Massacre, the 1985 electoral fraud in Chihuahua, 70’s dirty war, the 1971 Corpus Massacre and the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre (peak of the authoritarian regime), among many others examples of bloodshed and a disproportionate use of force… such as Atenco in 2006. It is not easy to demand order when national consciousness is carrying that burder. Of course, nobody these days would want a brutal repression, which was exercised in some of those terrifying moments. What is sought with a sense of urgency is the application the rule of law. This is what the government, successfully attempted when it sent police forces to remove a roadblock in the México-Acapulco highway. The question here would be: is this sort of action the beginning of a new era or just an exceptional moment?

Over the last few weeks, several Mexican entities have become examples of State blackmail by groups of individuals who defend antiquated, even ilegal interests. What has sparked off all these conflicts is the educational reform and Guerrero is where the largest anti-reform movement has taken place. However, demands are less and less clear and are looking forward to go beyond education since demonstrations nowadays do not only include dissident teachers. It is a worrying signal that movements like Regional Authority Coordination (CRAC), which has self-defence and vigilante groups as part of their members, are a part of these demonstrations. It is an explosive cocktail that inevitably refers to the 2006 APPO-harassed Oaxaca. President Peña has stated that approved reforms are not conditioned. One thing is certain, for some groups, reforms can become an excuse for mobilisation.

The problems of southern Mexico will end up as problem for its capital city, where the Federal Congress will define the future of a national education policy. The Mexican State should defend itself because, in that way, it will protect democratic deliberation. Unlike most of the 20th century, today Mexico is a democratic country. Unquestionably, the country now has enough legitimacy to fully defend fundamental political decisions and the rights of every individual. For this, the use of a reasonable and proportional force only when strictly needed seems like a logical step to take, just like several other Western democracies. A cultural change is needed for Mexican leaders to apply the law, since it will be the key to not use force with ferocity but with technical expertise and for police operations that break open public space invasion to turn into expert surgeries instead of wild razzias. The Pact for Mexico includes an agreement on the creation of a law that establishes clear parameters for the use of public force. It doesn’t seem like a bad idea. In the meantime, hopefully PRI, back as the ruling party in Mexico, will have learned the lessons and shall act intelligent and responsibly.


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